London Mini-Break โ€“ Day 3 (of 3): Suits you Sir!

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Our final day in London today!

Ahh, that’s better! I feel a walk down Oxford Street coming on (before midday!)

On our list today…

The Samsung Shop in Oxford Street
St. Paul’s Cathedral
A trip to the Theatre

…and knowing us, maybe more! ๐Ÿ˜Š

9.20am: We were out earlier than yesterday, but confident we’d miss the rush on the Tube. How wrong we were! It was nose-to-armpit for the whole of our journey in, and reminded us both of how travelling around the capital used to be when we were based. A sensory experience I thought I’d never have to endure again!!! ๐Ÿ˜ฎ

The Samsung Shop

9.45am: Our first stop of the day was the Samsung Shop in Oxford Street – aka The Samsung Experience. It’s (apparently) the ‘Mecca’ for Samsung fan-boys and girls, and it looked very upmarket inside. I’m not a fanboy myself – far from it – I simply choose the brand that offers the best techy-spec! However, in theory at least, you can’t do better than this official shop for all your ‘bits and bobs’ for their phones. In my particular case, I’m on the hunt for some very special (and very new) wired chargers. They’ve only been around for about a fortnight, but I felt optimistic!

I already knew these two ‘species’ – Chargus Wattus Maximus Major (and Minor) were like ‘hen’s teeth’, but the official shop was bound to stock them, weren’t they?

Weren’t they???? ๐Ÿค”

Well, it turned out to be a completely wasted journey! (apart from helping me to increase my step-count for today!) As I enquired if they stocked the new ’15W super-charger’ and maybe even the ’45W hyper-charger’, the Assistant looked mighty embarrassed as he whispered “No sir, we don’t have either, and we’ve no idea when they’ll be here”.

A bit disappointing considering it’s their flagship store! ๐Ÿ˜’๐Ÿ˜’
So, what’s all the fuss about these chargers? Well, they’re both able to charge the new generation of Samsung phones from completely empty to completely full in… wait for it… just over an hour! Amazing technology, and a real life-saver if you’ve ever need to charge your phone in record time!

To add insult to injury, I was advised by the Samsung Shop to try Currys opposite or Carphone Warehouse down the road. Of course, I did, but of course, they’d not got them either! ๐Ÿ‘ฟ

On our way to our next stop – St Paul’s Cathedral – we couldn’t help admire how much better Tottenham Court Road station now looked. Very shiny and very spacious too!

St Paul’s Cathedral

10.25am: Time to forget tech for a while and concentrate on something much older. We exited the Tube at St Paul’s and headed for the Cathedral. Neither of us had been here for a good many years, and so we were looking forward to admiring this famous landmark inside and out. Once again our 2-for-1 tickets saved us a packet – Total admission price? ยฃ20 instead of ยฃ40!! ๐Ÿค‘

It didn’t disappoint..!

Superb architecture that looked like it was decorated yesterday. Beautiful!

The Crypt was just as interesting and included the resting place of two military heavyweights – Nelson and Wellington.

A quick pit-stop next to the Crypt, before heading off to our next stop…

The Bank of England Museum

11.35am: We were a little early for Lunch, so we decided to track-down the location of the Bank of England Museum – especially as it had now started raining. A short walk later (after being re-directed when we mistakenly entered the Bank itself!) we arrived at the Museum, literally just round the corner. No queues and so we were inside in the dry very quickly.

What a find this was! Five separate galleries explaining the history of this famous institution, as well as plenty of interactive exhibits to attract the young (and me too!) ๐Ÿ˜

Entry is free, and there’s plenty on show to enjoy. It’s a light and airy space with plenty of emphasis on interactivity. Want to control inflation? Check. Seen a ten-bob note? Check. Wonder how they actually create money? Check.

There is so much to see here, and it’s all presented in a clear and well-constructed fashion.

If you’ve an hour-or-two to kill and you’re in the area, then this is a no-brainer (especially if it’s raining – and it WAS.. still!).

How to combat forgery (old school!)

This had been a most delightful of discoveries – and for once, we’re so glad it started raining, otherwise we may never looked for it! ๐Ÿ˜

12.35pm: We decided to walk back towards St Paul’s where there was a Cafรฉ Rouge. There was method in our madness, as I could use the gift voucher that Sally B had bought me for my Birthday! – Thanks Sal!! ๐Ÿ˜Š

1.05pm: I think we arrived just in time! It was already 80% full when we arrived, and after we were seated, they kept on arriving! They’re obviously doing something very right here!

We were soon seated and served (a good start!) and when our food arrived, it was piping hot.

Mushroom Rissotto
Blackcurrant Crumble

We both chose from the fixed-price two-course menu. Risotto and then Crumble for me, whilst Ann opted for the Chicken and Chips followed by Chocolate Fondant Pudding with ice-cream.

It was all delicious and in spite of how busy they were, our two waiting-staff were a ‘well-oiled machine’. We left, just as the restaurant approached 100% capacity – yep, perfect timing! ๐Ÿ‘๐Ÿ‘

2.10pm: We took the short walk back to St Paul’s Tube dodging the showers.

3.05pm: Arrivaing back at the ibis, there was time for a couple of hours to recharge batteries (phones AND humans) before we’re out again on our way to (for me) highlight of the day – the Theatre.

Not a bad step-count for today! (Thanks Samsung!)

5.30pm: Fully recharged, we took the now well-trodden path back to Stratford Station – this time heading for Leicester Square Tube. The Theatre is right next door, so that made things easier! ๐Ÿ˜Š

The Theatre

We’re seeing tonight’s performance of The Man in the White Suit at its new home of Wyndham’s Theatre.

Those of you of a certain age will remember the 1951 satirical comedy film of the same name made by Ealing Studios. It starred Alec Guinness, Joan Greenwood and Cecil Parker and was directed by Alexander Mackendrick. I love any film out of Ealing and this new Play, was going to be a real treat!

Starring Stephen Mangan, Kara Tointon and Sue Johnston Ujust until December 6th) it originally opened at the Theatre Royal, Bath in September 2019 before transferring to Wyndham’s Theatre. It’s only been running a few weeks in London, and I was eager to see how it translated to the stage. In fact, I learned later, that the original 1951 film itself was based on a Play so that makes this latest adaptation: ‘the-Play-of-the-film-of-the-Play!’

7.35pm: A slightly delyaed ‘curtain up’, but it was worth the wait. I think we were both unsure of how the film version would translate to the stage, but it worked really well. The leads all acted their socks off and although it was possible to recognise certain scenes from the film, it all felt very different – in a good way! In fact, I’d say we both enjoyed it more than the film (and I really like the film!). It was longer too at around two-and-a-bit hours. Comedically, it was much more slapstick than its on-screen equivalent – with the occasional musical break – and it all came together very nicely! The very clever set-design allowed for some extremely sophisticated configurations, and the set-changes were as entertaining to watch as the production! Superb entertainment all-round!

9.45pm: As the actors took their bows, the audience showed their appreciation with very enthusiastic (and well-deserved) applause. Being a small theatre, we were able to exit without any fuss and were soon on the Tube back to the hotel (for the final time).

“Fire in the Hold!”

10.15pm: Luckily, the Tube was much less busy than on our journey in, but a problem at West Ham station meant that we all had to evacuate the carriage whilst the driver investigated ‘an incident’. Someone had helpfully (not!) set fire to a pile of newspapers in another carriage – and then left in a hurry! Luckily, the plucky driver poked the pile with a stick and manouevered it onto the platform where it burned out. We were soon back on-board and heading for our next – and final – stop, Stratford.

10.25pm: After leaving the Station, we weren’t sure whether our shortcut through the Stratford Centre would still be open – but it was! As we we walked though, we could see why…
There were quite a few homeless people settling down inside for the night in their makeshift beds – a sad and sorry sign of this modern age!! ๐Ÿ™„

As we exited at the other end, the only thing outnumbering the tube passengers at the start of our day, was a gathering of the Met’s finest! We’ve never seen so many boys (and girls) in blue just standing around. I think there was more here than the whole of Northamptonshire’s force put together!

We quickened our pace! ๐Ÿค”

10.40pm: Back in the room! It’s been a long day for us, but it’s all been very worthwhile. We’ve packed a lot in (as we always do!) and even squeezed in some extra stuff too! Another very memorable ‘Birthday break’ – I wonder where we’ll be this time next year? ๐Ÿค”

Home by lunchtime tomorrow!

If you like to view JUST the photographs from our three-day break
they’re all HERE

London Mini-Break – Day 2 (of 3): Birthday Boy (2019)

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Here we are then, in the capital for my Birthday celebrations!

After yesterday’s retail therapy, today, it’s all about sight-seeing, and we’re off to visit Westminster Abbey and The Banqueting House …and maybe more!
That means there’s at least THREE relics on show in London today then! ๐Ÿ˜‰

7.20am: Another lie-in – that’s the second one this year! Instead of ploughing through emails, it was a really nice change to wake up to a record-breaking number of text messages and social-media posts wishing me well. A great start to my day.

As we’re away, we only brought the first few cards with us – the rest will be opened when we get back. Thanks in advance… and for the various gifts too! I’ve heard there’s quite a few to open on our return!

Wot! No candles???

8.45am: My ‘Birthday’ Breakfast in the Hotel was impressive in terms of its range. You’ll be pleased to hear that I did precede the above with a bowl of fresh fruit (hurrah!) but then go on to spoil the healthy intention with a couple of pastries (boo!)

Westminster Abbey

9.45am: My birthday celebration began with a spring in my step (early days yet!) as we took the short walk to Stratford Station, heading for our first sight-seeing opportunity – Westminster Abbey. It was a good day to travel underground (and stay inside) as the weather for London was already damp with more rain forecast. We were prepared for it and although I was pleased to see Ann, it WAS an umbrella in my pocket! ๐Ÿ˜‚๐Ÿ˜‚

10.30am: By the time we arrived, the weather had deteriorated and it was now pouring! Luckily, the queue wasn’t too long and we were soon inside. The 2-for-1 offer had saved us a hefty ยฃ23.

Unfortunately, no photography was allowed inside, but the excellent – and free – multimedia guide (portable video player and headphones) made up for it with Jeremy Iron’s soothing tones telling us all we needed to know. Simply, put, the interior was stunning with lots to see. Today’s Top Tip? With so much to take in, in addition to everything that’s in your normal eye-line, it helps to look down as well as up on a regular basis.

Westminster Abbey

The Supreme Court

11.45am: In a change to the advertised programme ๐Ÿ˜ we stumbled across The Supreme Court of the United Kingdom – just up the road in the direction of Whitehall. We already knew of it, just not exactly where it was.

Architectually, it was a fascinating building with a mix of old (it used to be council offices) and the new (it had been extended and was very light and airy). Free admission too! ๐Ÿ˜

Click on the pic for a larger version
Just an excuse for me to show off the lens on my new phone that blurs the background

It had a very ‘open’ feel to it and was scrupulously clean. Inside there are just four Courts where supreme justice is served, so it’s kept very busy. Deserted today though!! A lovely piece of London! ๐Ÿ‘๐Ÿ‘

Even the staircase was beautiful

A very interesting place and well-worth a visit if you’re also planning to see the Abbey, Parliament, Big-Ben etc etc. best of all, given its function, we were left completely free to wander around without any restrictions. ๐Ÿ˜Š

The Banqueting House

The Banqueting House

12.30pm: Next stop (and back on schedule) we arrived at The Banqueting House, home of the famous Charles I’s execution and Ruben’s ceiling – how’s that for contrast!!??

Where’s the Anadin?

Beheading aside, the jaw-dropping moment was easily the Ruben’s ceiling on the first floor…

Err… WOW!

This was a real treat for me and the vibrancy of the colours, let alone the feat of actually creating it in the first place, was mind-blowing! If you’re interested in visiting, the location is easy to miss unless you’re speciafically looking for it. Located between Downing Street and Trafalgar Square, opposite Horse Guards. Price of a (London) pint to get in!

Birthday Lunch

1.15pm: Birthday lunch was at the nearby The Clarence Pub – and perfecly timed as my feet were reminding me how much walking we’d done so far!

Still no candle!

When it comes to food (birthday or not) I’m easily pleased, whilst Ann is far more discerning. The Hake from the specials board found a home with Mrs P, whilst I chose the Chicken Pie and Smashed New Potatoes. One thing we did agree on was the cider – it had to be Aspall on draught!

Cheers!

The National Portrait Gallery

2.05pm: Next stop – and our last for the day – was The National Portrait Gallery. Last time I was here was back in May 2016 with my old prog rocker mate, Ian. We were on our way to see supergroup Yes in concert at the Royal Albert Hall. Just like my previous visit, there was lots to see. Some familiar, others less so, but it made for a very enjoyable experience. For us, the amazing thing was that it was sometimes hard to tell whether it was a painting or a photograph! What a talent!!

Thoughtfully laid out by age, the displays showed-off a wide range of subjects and styles…

It felt like it was perfectly possible stay here ALL DAY and not see the same portait twice!

How many faces do you recognise?

Nice to see very modern interpretations too!

3.45pm: Tomorrow, we’re off to see a Play just up the road (more about that tomorrow), so we thought we’d beat the queues and pick-up our tickets today. It seemed like a good idea, but no such luck, as the Box Office politely informed us that our tickets won’t be ready until 30 minutes before the performance tomorrow. So, it was back on the Tube, as we headed back to the Hotel.

4.35pm: Phew! What a day! I may only feel 19 on the inside, but my feet definitely are all 63 years of me! We hobbled back from Stratford station, picking up some sandwiches along the way – all set for my Birthday Tea (where I’m not expecting candles! ๐Ÿ˜Š)

5.30pm: It’s certainly been an actioned-packed Birthday (just the way I like it) and if I didn’t get round to replying to all your best wishes on social-media, I’m working through them next. For those who sent me cards, as I mentioned earlier, we travelled light and I’m opening those when get home on Saturday – that goes for my presents too! ๐Ÿ˜

Now for a lie-down in a darkened room! ๐Ÿ˜ด

Previous Birthday Celebrations…

2018
2017
2016
2015
2014
2013
2012
2011
2010
2009
2008
2007
2006
2005
2004

London Mini-Break – Day 1 (of 3)

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We’re on a three-day mini-break in London that’ll incorporate my birthday celebrations tomorrow.

Last time we visited the capital was back in August when we stayed ‘up-west’.

This time though, we’re on the opposite side (literally) and heading for east London where Stratford will be our home for the duration.

9.35am: OK, the weather forecast suggested we won’t need factor 30, but it was far better than when we looked yesterday. Valerie dropped us at the station in good time for our 10.01 departure. The train was slightly late, but made up for it as we sped towards the capital. It was the first time that we noticed the numerous and regularly-spaced new gantries above the track (in preparation for electrification).

Those that know us will not be surprised to hear that whilst we’re down south “We’ve got plans”.
On the list – The theatre; tracking down some new technology; therapy (of the retail kind) and a spell in ‘tourist mode’ sightseeing – courtesy of the popular ‘2-for-1’ deals offered by the railways.

11.05am: We arrived in London pretty much on time. First job was to head for our hotel and either check-in (if they’d let us, as we were early) or failing that, just dump our bags.

The ibis, 1A, Romford Road, Stratford (Gawd blimey guvnor!)

12.15pm: After a tortourous journey by Tube, due to an ‘unspecified incident’ that halted the train (meaning we had to switch to the Northern Line at Bank) we eventually arrived at the ibis. Check-in was super-quick, and we were soon on our way to Room 320.

Not bad for just ยฃ85 per night (including a cooked brekky!)

The room impressed us. We’ve stayed in larger (much larger) affairs, but this had a very modern feel to it and contained everything we needed. One example of how modern it was – it’s the first hotel we’ve stayed in where there wasn’t a phone in the room, replaced instead with a WhatsApp number! ๐Ÿ˜‰ Penny-pinching or smart – you decide!

Location-wise, we’re well positioned here. With Stratford station just down the road, we can get pretty much anywhere in the capital without too much of a stretch.

1.30pm: After catching the 1 o’clock news (Oh, Boris, what have you done!!!) we headed out into ‘darkest’ Stratford. Wow!, it’s certainly changed a lot round here since we both worked in and around the area. The numerous shiny new skyscrapers and apartment-blocks now punctuate the skyline, visually transforming the area from ‘old and run-down’ to a modern city.

Absolutely no sign of the Mitchell Brothers though – EastEnders this most definitely (now) isn’t! ๐Ÿ™„

1.45pm: We began our retail therapy with a visit to Westfield, a short(ish) walk from the hotel. Opened in September, 2011, it’s a gigantic retail space, some 1,910,000 square feet of shops, shops and more shops! Perfect then for us two and our therapy! ๐Ÿ˜ต

2.05pm: After a bit of window-shopping (there’s a lot of windows!), we took a break and stopped off for lunch at The Real Greek. We’d not heard of this chain before, but apparently (at the time of writing) they have another 15 outlets around the UK.

Very efficient service and mouthwatering food meant they’re now definitely added to our list called: ‘Must try some of their other restaurants’. Sensibly priced too! ๐Ÿ˜

2.55pm: With lunch out-of-the-way, we continued our retail therapy and headed for the TK Maxx – probably one of the largest of their outlets we’ve even been to! They were busy too – really busy – with the queue for the (many) checkouts snaking round the displays more akin to a Post-Office queue.

…Meanwhile the nearby M & S was struggling! We played ‘spot the customer’, a game that was over very quickly! ๐Ÿ˜ฎ
Happily, the Food Hall was doing better and we picked up a few snacks for our evening meal. ๐Ÿ˜

We called it a day shortly afterwards, and headed back in the direction of the Hotel. With a reasonable step-count for the afternoon, we reflected on the impact of Stratford’s transformation of its retail landscape together with the explosion of new buildings in the immediate area. In my eyes, it was completely unrecognisable from the Stratford I knew back in the 90s.

And yet, even though the architecture had changed, the locals still looked very familiar! Consequently we couldn’t help feel an irrational sense of unease as we mingled amongst the residents of E20. It was nothing we could put our finger on – we love our fellow man – but it was the Stratford of old, pre-Olympics – a place where it was probably wise not to wander the streets after-dark! ๐Ÿค” I did see the Mitchell Brothers and plenty of other ‘dodgy geezers’!

Also on our to-do list was to chase-down some technology! That technology was ‘5G’. In spite of being armed with quite a detailed map, it was nowhere ot be found.

A quick conversation with the nominated ‘tech expert’ in John Lewis proved that he was none the wiser, and he suggested that I try ‘further south’. When we got back to the room, I rang ”3′ my phone provider only to be told that their 5g service has NOT been launched yet in London for mobile-phones (but it had for home-broadband) in spite of what the map suggested.

Well, that’s one less thing to worry about whilst we’re here ! ๐Ÿ˜•

Dining in!

6.00pm: We ate in tonight! The Duck Wrap was very pleasant, but the Gluten/Wheat-free Piri-piri Chicken Wrap (that I’d picked-up in error) was the work of the Devil! ๐Ÿ˜ฃ

The Changing Face of Stratford

It’s been an interesting first day and by way of a change, we’re sight-seeing in central London tomorrow!

Noshing with the Neighbours

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Well, we haven’t done this in a while! – a mega-neighbours’ get-together! Whereas last year, during the World Cup, we were in each other’s homes for most of the matches, enjoying endless food and drink – in 2019, not so much!

Still, Ann and I soon remedied that with an open invitation to 16 of our closest neighbours and friends! ๐Ÿ˜‹

“Beauty (and the Feast)”!

With only Paul and Karen not able to join us all due to prior commitments, the menu was a truly collaborative affair! Whilst Ann took care of the Mains and Desserts, our guests – Jo, Janet, Carol, Tom, Julie, John, Trish, Fiona, David, Valerie, David and Rosi – were on the case for everything else.

This was no time to be thinking about ‘eating light’ ๐Ÿ˜

Catalan Chicken with Chorizo

Pork, Apple and Cider Casserole

Soufflรฉ-topped Fish Pie

Baked Jackets

Cauliflower Cheese

Red Cabbage

Peas

Carrots

Apricot and Almond Crumble

Cherry Croissant Pudding

Chocolate, Fruit and Nut Cheesecake

Cheeseboard

And it was no exaggeration, to say this had been a real feast! mainly down to everyone playing their part in terms of the menu. Extra ‘brownie points’ for Rosi, too, who lent her whisking skills to the Fish Pie topping!! Everything went down a treat and the re-visits for seconds, thirds – and for a few of us – even fourths, showed how much everyone had enjoyed the nosh!

With the food served, we talked of many things.. “of cabbages and kings…” and… “wheelie bins” (sorry Lewis Carroll). More specifically though, what goes-in-what – especially the blue one! ๐Ÿค”

On one level, you’d think it would have been a pretty straightforward discussion, but it proved as divisive as Brexit! ๐Ÿ˜‰

Great fun though debating bubble-wrap! ๐Ÿ˜‚๐Ÿ˜‚๐Ÿ˜‚๐Ÿ˜‚๐Ÿ˜‚

There was no doubt that the energy for the vigorous ‘wheelie-debate’ came from the food – and not surprisingly, we probably all ate more than we planned!

When the meal finished, teas and coffees were offered all round – and by around 5pm, our guests now suitably watered, began to make plans for their leaving.

There were plenty of leftovers, but we reached for the Tupperware and some lucky guests got a ‘doggie-bag’.

By 5.15 we started the great clear-up, and very surprisingly, given the numbers involved and the scale of the lunch, it didn’t take too long. On the stroke of 6.30, you’d hardly know we’d been entertaining at all!

Wow! What a day!! Delightful in every sense. It was so good to get everyone in the same room at the same time! ๐Ÿ’•

A Touch of the Exotic

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Gosh! It’s been a while since we were last here! – November 2016 actually! We journeyed to the centre of Kettering town with Julie and Bev for a Curry at the excitingly-named (and once oft-visited) The Exotic Dining.

The food has always been excellent here and I’m not sure why we’ve been away so long ๐Ÿค”. Thing is, we’re lucky enough to be spoilt for choice round here for great places to eat, and there just aren’t enough days in the week to regularly eat at them all! #ToughLife

It had probably been our favourite Indian restaurant since the demise of Mazza’s, and it was good to be back. The manager seemed to remember us, and were given a very warm welcome (and handshake) then promptly shown to our table.

He needn’t have hurried though! Even though the food was better than we remember it, we did have to wait for it… and wait… and wait! And they weren’t particularly busy either! ๐Ÿ˜ฎ Perhaps more surprising, given it was a Friday night!

Their legendary ‘Pears of Potato’
A Banquet!

But maybe it was one of those few times where the wait was definitely worth it. We all agreed that it was all absolutely delicious! Probably the best tasting Indian meal we’d all had in a long time. Clearly the kitchen, for whatever reason, was under a bit of pressure and by the time we put down the last nibble of Naan, we’d been at our table for almost two-and-a-half hours. Personally, I don’t like eating late, so we skipped dessert and coffee and headed for home. We dropped Bev and Jules off at theirs and ‘hit the hay’ around 11pm.

So, all-in-all, it was good to see the restaurant again; the staff were super-friendly (as always) and the food memorable – just a pity it took so long before we were able to enjoy it! ๐Ÿฅฑ

Best Nest!

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Ann and I drove over to Stratford-upon Avon for our regular(ish) get-together with good friends: Alan, Mags, Ian and Ann. Our eatery of choice this time was The Swan’s Nest Hotel opposite the River.

It was the in-house eatery Bistrot Pierre that was our ultimate destination and I thought we’d never been to it before, only to discover immediately on being shown to our table, it was all very familiar! ๐Ÿ™„ A quick check of this Blog revealed that Ian, Mags and I had been there as part of our regular Trainer ‘get-togethers’ back when we were earning: 30th August 2011!

Weather-wise, it was a glorious day! It would have been perfect for eating outside with a bright blue-sky and a temperature well into the low/mid 20s, but our table was already set inside and that’s were we stayed (although it was right by the big window in the corner, so at least we had a good view!)

Luckily, our table had been designed by King Arthur which meant it was easy to chat with everybody (most of the time). I say most because it was also very busy there, and very noisy too (technical term: ‘had atmosphere’). Still, we had plenty of opportunity to catch-up with everyone’s news, even though at times, we needed to raise our voices and it didn’t spoil the experience! ๐Ÿ˜ต

Food and service were both excellent – and the combination of the friendliest of waiting-staff and a wallet-friendly bill, did the trick! We all left with a full bellies (even though none of us had Dessert) and a big smile. ๐Ÿ˜๐Ÿ˜๐Ÿ˜๐Ÿ˜๐Ÿ˜๐Ÿ˜

Unusually, we didn’t set a date for our next get-together – more forgetfulness than anything else – but Mags had picked up on it and started the ball rolling by email. Looks like our next jaunt will be next February/March sometime.

Unusually for me, I didn’t take photos of the food! No, I wasn’t asleep! I was without my mobile phone today as it’s new, and whilst I wait for a protective case, it stayed safely at home for fear of me dropping it! ๐Ÿ˜ฎ๐Ÿ‘

Film: Downton Abbey

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Off to our fave cinema – Cineworld at Rushden Lakes – for the just-released TV-series-turned-movie: Downton Abbey.

If you fancy a ‘bit of posh’ you couldn’t do better than this! ๐Ÿ˜ Most of the recurring characters from the TV series make it to the big-screen outing, with just a few omissions (due to actors’ unavailability).

“Above Stairs”…
Hugh Bonneville as Robert Crawley, the Earl of Grantham
Allen Leech as Tom Branson
Matthew Goode as Henry Talbot
Harry Hadden-Paton as Bertie Pelham
Douglas Reith as Lord Merton
Penelope Wilton as Lady Isobel Merton
Elizabeth McGovern as Cora Crawley, the Countess of Grantham
Dame Maggie Smith as the Dowager Countess
Michelle Dockery as Lady Mary Crawley
Laura Carmichael as Lady Edith Crawley (eventually ‘Pelham’)

“Below Stairs”…
Jim Carter as Carson, the butler
Phyllis Logan as Mrs Hughes, the housekeeper
Rob James-Collier, as Mr Barrow, the butler
Brendan Coyle as Mr Bates, the valet to the Earl of Grantham
Joanne Froggatt as Anna, the personal maid to Lady Mary
Kevin Doyle as Mr Molesley, footman
Lesley Nicol as Mrs Patmore, the cook
Sophie McShera as Daisy, the under-cook
Michael Fox as Andy Parker, footman and Daisy’s Fiancรฉ
Rachel Cassidy as Phyllis Baxter, Lady Crawley’s Maid

Expect to see some other well-known TV faces too. In particular, Mark Ady (as an ‘alt-Arkwright’) and David Hague, in a part that was surely written for him as The Kingโ€™s Page of the Back Stairs.

Set in 1920s, it depicts the world of the Crawleys as they prepare for a visit from royalty – King George V (Simon Jones) and Queen Mary (Geraldine James).

It’s all class-hokum of course – for a start, the benevolence of ‘upstairs’ with those ‘downstairs’ doesn’t match anything I’d ever read about life in servitude back in the day! ๐Ÿ˜ฏ

Still, it was wonderful hokum! Call me an old romantic, but Julian Fellowes has done a fantastic job in transferring it all from small to the big screen. The TV series was pretty lavish, but this takes it up a notch (or ten). It was superbly filmed, with the actors effortlessly re-creating their roles like they’d never been away. There are are quite a few plot-lines, some big, some small, but it all comes together very nicely by the final act. Maggie Smith did not disappoint, and has now achieved an AS Level (Advanced Sarcasm) in her specialist subject – so many wonderful cutting lines! ๐Ÿ˜‚

So, spend the next 120 minutes immersed in the rosy world of the idle rich (but do take a tissue as there’s a major ‘blub’ moment towards the end). ๐Ÿ˜ฅ๐Ÿ˜ฅ

There’s plenty of chatter online about whether they’ll be a sequel or not – I’d say the chances are very high.